About 20 Neo Nazis, 700 counter demonstrators and police from state, county and two city agencies not to mention representatives from the Department of Justice Community Relations Division and the National Lawyers' Guild.
Neo Nazi Rally and counter-rally, some scuffles, two arrestsWhere:
Indiana and Madison in Casa BlancaWhen:
Saturday, Oct. 23 between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
[The Neo-Nazis showed up with their props and their own security, aka "stormtroopers" which were basically men dressed up in black, including helmets and carrying those plastic wrist bracelets on their chests.]
[The Neo-Nazis after they arrived near Indiana and Madison in Casa Blanca surrounded by police dressed in riot gear.]
[Riverside Police Department Det. Lavall Nelson working on crowd control detail today. Representatives of the police department, the Riverside County Sheriff's Department, the Corona Police Department and the California Highway Patrol were called out as well. Would Nelson be a citizen under Nazi America? Of course not, yet here he is still protecting the Nazis right to speech anyway.]
[One of the activists, aka Trumpet Man spent much of the demonstration playing music pretty well. Here he's conversing with members of the Riverside Police Department's Metro division.]
[The motor division of the police department awaiting instructions. That's pretty much the entire division.]
[Trumpet Man and other protesters who marched for four miles around Riverside before arriving at the main counter-rally played their drums and chanted on Madison during the last hour of the demonstration.]
[Counter demonstrators met up with police after a second contingent arrived about halfway through.]
[Protesters clashed not long after the Neo Nazis arrived after some Brown Berets allegedly allowed some people to leave the closed off area and cross the street. The metal barricades being used for the first time by the department caused more problems than anything else.]
[A small group of counter demonstrators crossed the street and went over to where the Neo Nazis were standing trying to get their flags again. Police came and pushed them back.]
[Police in riot gear stand between the counter-demonstrators and the Neo Nazis behind them.]
[Two Neo Nazis doing well, the Heil Hitler thing doing nothing to distance themselves from their predecessors in Germany which isn't surprising.]
Morning broke over Casa Blanca, a predominantly Latino neighborhood with deep historic roots as it usually did and people came from all over to congregate near the intersection of Madison and Indiana in force to protest and rally against a small cluster of Neo Nazis drawn from Riverside, San Francisco and San Diego who were returning to the site where they had protested and had been run off earlier in the month, their flags in tatters. It was clear very early on that the Neo Nazis would be vastly outnumbered even more this time as over 60 organizations were represented at this latest rally. The coalition of organizations had assigned dozens of "monitors" to the rally to try to keep the peace. They would have their work cut out for them as both demonstrations unfolded and some of those who had said they were there to keep the peace changed their minds.
But before all that, people began to arrive and assemble on the sidewalks and in the driveways of local businesses and restaurants and talk with each other within the final hour before both demonstrations would begin. Monitors with colored hats (pink for monitors, green for National Lawyers' Guild) and pink armbands began to circulate. Media outlets began to arrive including several satellite trucks. Mainstream media of course is afforded the privileges that alternative media is not when the department's designated media screener abruptly changed the rules after the demonstration had turned into a conflict and apparently didn't apply those amended rules to about a dozen men with video cameras and no credentials of any kind who were actually mostly just wandering around, at least one clearly inebriated the whole time, swearing up a storm and calling for people to charge the Nazis. Lesson learned for future blog coverage, apparently if you carry a video camera around or wear a camera around your neck, get plenty sauced up ahead of time and swear up a storm, you'll pass muster with the police department's press screening division because clearly this gentleman and others did.
Still, some interesting photographs made it on this site as you can see here and there were a lot of stories that came out of this day which can't be narrowed down to the sound bytes that you see on television. Life's more complicated than that even in Riverside. Actually, especially in Riverside.
Having written for a community newspaper for 10 years that had to fight for every space it ever covered any news event even amid threats and news racks getting tossed by the dozen in the back of a city-0wned vehicle by an irate city, you learn to go with the flow with the realization there's just a multi-tiered list of privileges or rights or whatever you want to call them for different media outlets. Certainly in Riverside which is ironic considering that the Los Angeles Times
vacated its office in downtown and the Press Enterprise
appears to be on life support, certainly in its coverage of Riverside. Someone once told me that one of the former reporters there told him, it is difficult to be a journalist when you're on a leash. That's a pretty sad state of affairs for what was once a fairly good and very respected family owned newspapers, one of the last to sell out to a major conglomerate in the country and is apparently represented by the same major law firm as the city of Riverside.
It was interesting watching several credentialed photographers and reporters completely get into everybody's way and even their own way so apparently with that piece of plastic doesn't come common sense. It's always a bit strange to watch major events unfold, try to cover them from that different perspective and then here that examining a piece of Riverside's history is by invitation only. When in reality, history belongs to everyone who witnesses it not just a select few and face it, the daily newspapers including the Press Enterprise
are in their death knells unless they radically change the direction of journalism in a technological age.
Early on, one of the credentialed guys who must have been at his first demonstration gasped at the first skirmish between the Neo Nazis and the Brown Berets calling it a riot and got on his cell phone calling someone to tell them he was standing in the middle of a riot. I just looked at him and shook my head. No, because if he were actually standing in the middle of one, he'd probably toss the cell phone and run down the street.
No, a riot is when you're sitting in a taxi cab in a foreign country and a dozen people are pushing on it and trying to turn it over while you're trying to crawl out of it while being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
No a riot, is when a city explodes into fire and rage and not being able to locate your mother who's working at a hospital blocks away from ground zero (and brought home a car covered with some dents from someone dancing on it) and a stepfather who is sitting on the patio and watching the smoke of buildings burning down several blocks away, or for many people, when you lose your business, your neighborhood, everything you've ever known, or your life experiences shared by thousands of people in different cities. Riot is a term that tends to get tossed around a lot to describe any physical confrontation but true riots themselves are less common for the same reasons that any major firestorm in an area is a rare event. Because the fuel that is needed to build both takes years, even decades to develop until all it takes is one spark to set it off, burning out of control. Riots are brief episodes of frustration and rage burning up years worth of fuel followed by years more of pain as people are left to rebuild everything from ashes. They aren't something you quickly forget and it's not a term that you quickly throw out around but many people do and did including on this day in Riverside.
So no, this wasn't a riot or even close. These were physical skirmishes, between one side that brought the most vilified symbol in human history into a neighborhood filled with people who didn't want it there and hundreds of people who were opposed to Nazis in their midst but were diversified to the point where they brought in agendas which were different from each other. Most people wanted to demonstrate, but peacefully and others came prepared for an encore performance of the last time that the Neo Nazis and counter-demonstrators met which is something the two opposing sides had in common, because the Neo Nazis wanted that repeat performance too so they would have the chance to script a different ending this time where they walked back to their foreign made cars (albeit under police escort) rather than being chased back to them.
Of course, it didn't start that way. The morning began quietly enough with most people in good spirits looking at the demonstration ahead, to make a peaceful stand against the Neo Nazis in their midst. They brought their signs and banners and their voices. Several people brought newspapers and pamphlets to circulate on a wide variety of issues from immigration to health care to socialism. People passed out water bottles as they would do so all day. Some people brought their lawn chairs so they could sit back and watch the show under the hot sun.
Joe Vazquez who owns the security firm that works at the nearby Home Depot had at least a dozen of his employees many packing guns stationed around the store and the sidewalk lining the north side of Madison. Rudy Chavez, the owner of the Chavez Auto Parts store across the street from where Vazquez was stationed had been in business at that location since 1970 and he and friends were watching the events unfold just as they had at the previous one in September. Christina Duran, an activist and leader in the Eastside was one of the monitor captains who would be running around trying to address flareups that took place during the protest before they could more fully erupt. She would get barely any rest during the next three hours.
Incidentally, all three of these people are citizens and all would be deported under Nazi America according to the NSM's 25 point plan because they're not White. Yet Duran stopped a counter demonstrator from throwing rocks at the Nazis at one point in the demonstration.
The entire command staff of the police department(including both those who would and wouldn't be deported by the Nazis in their vision of America) along with Chief Russ Leach appeared at the intersection with police officers wearing the green uniforms that identify them as SWAT near a mobile unit truck ready to deploy while others stood on the roof on top of Farmer Boys' Restaurant looking down below. The SWAT division headed by both Capt. John Wallace who is in charge of Special Operations and Lt. Larry Gonzalez who soon may be the only lieutenant in that division after the two others retire were out in full force as well as what appeared to be most of the rest of the department's patrol division along with detectives, officers in personnel and training and even the current domestic/family violence sergeant.
Not to mention the half dozen or so plain clothed officers who were members of the Gang and Vice/Criminal Intelligence units officer was videotaping the counter demonstrators. The under cover officers were probably the only White people there not carrying one sign or another saying they were for or against Nazism. It's not clear whether the Nazis themselves were actually videotaped by police officers but they were videotaped by everyone else including the aforementioned inebriated cameraman.
Because the police department didn't want a repeat of the last clash between demonstrators, so its officers created a different game plan this one or so that was the plan.
Protesting on the grassy knoll for anyone was out this time around so everyone was to be given a designated spot in the dirt adjacent to a railroad tracks. Actually the Neo Nazis got that location by default after counter-demonstrators began arriving before the protest with dozens lining up by 9:30 a.m. one immediate problem was created when the Neo Nazis arrived just after 10 a.m. with their own security dressed in costumes and positioned themselves on that location and that was that a troop of Brown Berets had picked a spot for themselves immediately adjacent to where the Nazis were to be located. At about this time, another 100 demonstrators from Riverside Community College were doing a four mile walk for peace playing drums and chanting slogans while carrying banners although they hadn't arrived at the main rally yet. Some people said that people they knew in Casa Blanca had been warned not to to go to the counter demonstration by police. Reports also came in, including one that police officers had headed off a group of people carrying sticks who were coming to the rally and no one seemed to know how much truth there was to any of it. There would often be a fine line between rumor and fact that day.
The Neo Nazis Arrive
The group of Neo Nazis finally arrived to a crowd of counter demonstrators lining both Madison and Indiana streets waiting for them. Most of them looked puny in stature and were clearly not long out of high school. Almost all of them were men except for a blond woman who was photographed at the last demonstration doing the Heil Hitler gesture and posted as some heroine on Inland Empire Craigslist where the Nazis had been doing some advertising before they began demonstrating in Riverside. Several had tattoos on their shaved scalps, others on their arms and all of them wore dark colors and darker sun glasses including the so-called "storm troopers" who alas, weren't dressed like the ones in Star Wars
. There were more of them than there had been at the previous demonstration which wasn't surprising because they clearly had spent the interim between both performances in rehearsal. They tried to look impressive but a lot of people talked about how underwhelming they looked in person when they arrived.
The story is that most of them are very young people having their strings pulled by some older members of National Socialist Movement out of the Bay Area. The older guy who had come down from San Francisco to help them has been photographed at rallies held by SOS and the Minutemen in various locations in Southern California, predominantly in Orange County. The national organization of the NSM is actually based in Detroit but chapters very small in size have been popping up in different states and holding similar rallies. At some point, a guy in Riverside decided that his city would be a perfect location for the NSM's California chapter and he started it out of his own home.
The Inland Empire is actually not a bad choice for Neo Nazis to show up and try to attract membership, given the current recession which has hit this area much harder than other areas and the high unemployment particularly in the blue collar sector. Combine that with the fact that one of the most fastest growing demographics for hate crimes are Latino citizens and immigrants and it's not surprising that a group of people with a White Supremacist ideology would come calling. Whether anybody actually answers and their numbers grow remains to be seen but demonstrations like the last two have given them plenty of fodder to use in recruitment in what they clearly see as a hotbed for finding warm bodies to join up.
They are targeting their recruitment efforts at people opposed to undocumented immigrants but in reality, they believe that even illegal European immigrants belong in this country and people of color who are legal citizens do not so it's got very little to do about the contentious subject of immigration and more to do with promoting White Supremacy. After all, one guy had "white power" on his shirt sleeve and they yelled as many insults about Jewish people as they did anyone else. Because after all, in their version of America, the Jewish people would be deported as well and the undocumented White immigrants from Europe would of course be moved to the front of the line for citizenship under Nazi America with the Nazis' version of a magic wand.
The Fists Start Flying
The first eruption took place not long after the long-awaited attraction with an audience of over 500 and at the time about $40,000 in police overtime waiting for them to come and do their thing which consists of waving flags which were either a composite of the Stars and Stripes with the swastika or a flag depicting the twin lightning bolts and yelling slogans like "Jews wreck the economy." Oh and when things slowed down, they did the Heil Hitler salute several times with better synchronization than most watches. As one woman told another who had just arrived at the demonstration, "the Nazis are here and oh wait, one of them just lifted an arm." News traveled back and forth through the long line of counter demonstrators on Madison like a game of telephone as people watched things unfold.
The Nazis had been protesting for all of about five minutes before a small group of demonstrators including members of the Brown Berets who were there to do security purportedly at the request of Casa Blanca they said, started rushing to the opposite side of the street to go chase down the Nazis calling on other people to join them. Several of them reached them and began throwing punches and trying to grab them and the Nazis threw punches back. Police including the SWAT team moved in quickly after first appearing to be caught a bit by surprise and broke up the tussle, taking one member of the Brown Berets named Rudy away to be arrested or detained. He was not seen for the remainder of the protest but it's ironic as one organizer said later, that the person who was arrested was a "peacekeeping" captain. Most of the other monitors worked very hard to try to keep things peaceful.
More police arrive soon after including those from the Riverside County Sheriff's Department and the Corona Police Department. California Highway Patrol officers show up to close off Madison street and the nearby onramp to the 91 freeway where traffic backs up in part because people on the freeway are watching what is going on in the streets below them. The police helicopter from Riverside's police department and the CHP both flew around in circles during the demonstration.
Welcome to Riverside and just another day in one of America's Most Livable Cities. Now move along. Look, there's Corona!
One of the organizers later said that the monitor captain who was arrested felt a bit sorry that he had gone over there where the Neo Nazis were but that he couldn't help himself when they had shown up. That organizer later said that he felt "betrayed" that some of the people who had engaged in the first round of tussling at the past demonstration had broken what he said were promises not to do it again, but on the internet, protesters from that demonstration had said that they were bringing their saliva and flag ripping skills back to Riverside on the 24th of October. They talked about it on some sites around early October and then went quiet, most likely because they were fully aware how law enforcement agencies monitor those sites for information about upcoming demonstrations and probably had moved their discussions elsewhere.
As stated earlier, the Nazis had one simple objective, to hold their ground for the three hours of protest time and to get plenty of footage of any physical confrontation between themselves and the counter-demonstrators to use in their future membership drives. Much as they did the last demonstration of what they called the Great Eight
(not the most creative of slogans but they don't seem like an imaginative bunch) who withstood machetes, rocks in an "hour" of "street fighting" which is very dramatic stuff except for the fact that they had only been protesting for about 15 minutes before fleeing and there were no such weapons seen in any of the video footage taken by media outlets including the Press Enterprise
. But their version sounds so much more exciting than what really happened even if their own visual depiction of the earlier demonstration doesn't back it up and so they have sold it all over the internet to attract an audience. The Press Enterprise
and other media outlets had written enough about there being a physical confrontation between the two without going into details which provided them with an avenue to embellish on.
More Nazis came out this time, including some from out of town, and they seemed much more animated and sounded much louder. Which is very useful when you're Riverside's latest tourist attraction. Not that they are the first batch of White Supremacists groups, gangs or social clubs (and people seem really loathe to call them gangs even when they're violent) to come to Riverside but they're the most visible and wear the best costumes. People treat them as if they are the great thing to fear when in reality what really exists to be afraid of or concerned about is already here and they're just the latest offshoot of that.
They're not the ones to be afraid of, it's what brought them out here and out of the woodwork. It's what makes them feel that Riverside, the city with a half a dozen slogans none of which mention the Nazis, is the epicenter of their latest movement. That is why that chasing them off isn't going to be as easy as some people seem to think. A young female member of the Brown Berets actually said an interesting comment when asked why they had reacted to the Neo Nazi presence with force this time. Because we thought if we got them angry enough, they would turn around and leave, she said, seemingly surprised that their actions had just made them more steadfast at staying on a strip of dirt next to a railroad track in Casa Blanca.
And they won, because for there being only about eight of them, all they have to do now is issue a press release that they're going to demonstrate and hundreds of people show up, many demonstrating peacefully, some not not to mention dozens of law enforcement. That's an incredible amount of power that's just been given to the latest hate group to seek a home in Riverside and it didn't cost them very much. When the Ku Klux Klan protested in Riverside in 1999 riding on the coattails of tremendous upheaval after the shooting of Tyisha Miller, they attracted very little attention and soon withered away, never to issue another press release of a demonstration again.
The actions of a few just ensured that the Nazis will be more entrenched in the fabric of this city than they were already. That's how it often works with hate groups and gangs especially those who constitute the minority of a population. They expect to be hated by the people they hate so they aren't surprised when they show up with their symbols of hate that are meant to incite and people react exactly the way they want them to react. As long as this strategy is used against them, they'll get stronger because hatred is what fuels their cause and negative attention is still attention. Hatred, and the absence of anything that's positive is what their movement is all about. If they are like many White Supremacist gangs, maybe hatred or the absence of its opposite, love is the only thing they've known in their lives. The only way for them to have "White Pride" or pride in their racial identity as they call it is to believe that everyone else is inferior or animalistic in comparison.
One church going man figured that out and his story is below.
After the first skirmish, the police officers changed their positions pushed people back in several directions including across the railroad tracks which were blocked for the majority of the protests but no trains passed through Casa Blanca during the demonstration. Only the yellow tape that is often used at crime scenes to seal them off kept the demonstrators apart from the line of riot police which separated them from each other. And it was stretched as tightly as many of the emotions and nerves there.
The main reason this group of Neo Nazis had planned to target Casa Blanca because of the day laborer site that exists near McDonalds and Home Depot on Indiana and Madison and because they were hoping for a polarized response which is exactly what they took home with them. It's a safe bet that even as this blog posting is being written that the Neo Nazis after their own victory celebration are probably sending out accounts and videos of the "violence" against them all over the internet, much like the counter demonstrators are doing the same thing about their victory but who really "won" here? Because even if they "lost" the last round which is debatable, they won this one. And that will be the case any time they are physically confronted by a large crowd of people, as long as any punches they throw are in self defense.
They won it within the first five minutes of the rally, they won it when several counter demonstrators began throwing rocks, bottles and some fruit at them that were stashed allegedly inside a plastic barrel that had been used as a drum, and they sealed the deal when they left three hours after they had arrived including one who had a napkin pressed to his head from where a rock had hit him. And when the monitors including a woman tried to tell people to stop throwing things at the Nazis and the police officers, at least one of them, the woman, was physically assaulted and might have been hurt if the guy's girlfriend hadn't interceded.
But then the sexism and downright misogyny was unfortunately pretty thick among some of the men in this demonstration particularly its final hour. Since the Nazis like most White Supremacists essentially view women as breeders, either desirable (Aryan) or not (everyone else), it seemed a natural direction for them to take their rhetoric and it turned out to come just as easily for some of the counter-demonstrators as well.
About that time, both sides ran out of slogans to yell at each other and so they started insulting each other instead and the best way that men might have to insult each other is to label each other as women. One side would say that he had fucked the other one's wife and the other would say that they were a bunch of "pussies" because of course demeaning each other, by demeaning the entire female gender is a great way to get your point across, proving that whether ideology exists, misogyny has not been thoroughly or even partly stamped out of it.
But the majority of the counter demonstrators kept on topic and ignored the Nazis pleas to the White contingent of that group to "wake up" and come right on over to their side. Nobody did.
Hundreds of demonstrators waved American, Mexican and Israeli flags from the side of Madison near Farmers' Boys and chanted slogans against Nazism and hate. As usual, that upset more people in the Press Enterprise's
comment section than the reality that the Nazis had taken the American flag and merged it with the Nazi Germany flag to create a Stars and Stripes version with a swastika in the middle of it. It's ironic to have almost an entire generation of men and women go to war as Americans to fight Nazism and then to come full circle by having American flags with swastikas stitched on them.
Still, the people who counter demonstrated were people of all ages, ethnic and racial backgrounds and represented the different economic and social strata of life. It's interesting how the Nazis labeled the counter-demonstrators as "violent Jews, Illegal Immigrants and homosexual Rights Activists"
and the Press Enterprise
called them "Mexicans, blacks, Jews and Gays"
, both essentially trying to place identity labels on the counter demonstrators that define some of them but not all of them. In the final version of its article, this portion of it apparently was deleted.
It's difficult to know how the Press Enterprise
reporter could have ascertained people's sexual orientation on sight unless she conducted a poll ahead of time and known that every Latino was a citizen of Mexico when the majority of Latinos in attendance were in fact citizens of this country and quite a few of them were of Guatemalan ancestry. And people of Central American ancestry often don't like being called Mexicans very much. Not to mention that not all the White straight Christian people protesting there were Nazis or aligning themselves with them, since they comprised at least half of the counter demonstrators. But it's not the first time the publication has tried to marginalize the definitions of demonstrators.
Soon after, the marchers with their drums and one guy who played a trumpet joined the other demonstrators and were met by the police department's motorcycle division and the people played their instruments and chanted and the police officers revved up their sirens which created quite an interesting cacophony. The inebriated cameraman still swearing up a blue streak and others photographed them lining up toe to toe with the squad of motor officers until the Nazis departed.
Riverside: The City of the Arts, Innovation and...Nazis?
If you watched the news to check out the coverage of the Neo Nazi rally and the counter rally, you'll see several different maps with Riverside written on them, superimposed with a swastika. That image was shown everywhere on news broadcasts and apparently outside the state as well, with some people wondering if Riverside was being overrun with Nazis. So in a city where the government loves to engage in the exercise of voting a new catchy logo or slogan once a month or so, has now had one adopted for it by the media and it's the most reviled logo of all time. And what you've seen also in the past month with the exception of Mayor Ron Loveridge is silence from City Hall on this issue. And if you know anything about the history of protesting in Riverside, a lot of it comes about when a critical issue or incident arises or occurs and there's not a peep about it out of the elected government until long after the fact. Loveridge obviously figured this out albeit with some help after the protests that took place in the aftermath of the Miller shooting in 1999 which began during what some called the month of silence out of City Hall. But the rest of the city council wasn't in office when that took place and have hit a rather steep learning curve though at least they haven't hired a public relations firm to speak for it at least not yet.
The Nazis have also made some appearances in different places since the last demonstration. Whether it's to intimidate people they don't like or do some form of community outreach, was very clear in some cases, not so much in others.
People have been talking about the experiences in the past few weeks and different "Nazi sightings". One demonstrator talked about how two Nazis had come by his church and dropped in while the church was conducting its choir practice. He invited the Nazis to come and sit down to help with the singing and they just muttered something and left the church soon after. On this day, the man who have extended some hospitality to the visiting Nazis wore his tee-shirt for peace and held his sign on the street with hundreds of others. In early October, two Nazis had come to a Jewish temple and unfurled their Nazi flags. Racist and antisemitic graffiti had appeared at other religious institutions. Those actions just brought out hundreds more people to the counter demonstration.
What's always discouraging is reading the Press Enterprise
threads and seeing the blatant racism on them including support and sympathy towards the Nazis and their cause which was presented as being against illegal immigration and the day laborer site in Casa Blanca. Okay, if that's your issue and you're down with them, then ask yourself this. If this group of Nazis is just about that issue then why were they yelling slurs against the Jews and the gays and lesbians? No, if you go to their national Web site and read their 25 point plan
, they're very clear about what their platform is even if they were intially less than honest about putting their hatred of non-White, straight, Christian people on display until yesterday. So go read that plan and see if you're still down with them. They were a little bit less disingenuous about just how many groups of people they hate in this demonstration as opposed to their last one but the national site will give readers more of an idea about exactly where they stand against people who aren't well...of the Aryan standard. And yes, that might mean you, your family, your coworkers and your friends.
To Protect and Serve Nazis?
There was a lot of talk at the protest and afterward about why the police including SWAT team members were protecting the Nazis and whether or not that meant that they openly or secretly identified themselves in that group. Actually, they weren't there to protect the Nazis just their freedom of speech under the United States Constitution. One of the mottoes of the American Civil Liberties Union is that the Constitution is in place to protect the minority from the majority, which in this case were the Nazis.
But at the demonstration, you had the Nazis who make it clear in their 25 point plan that they don't respect the right to freedom of expression, speech or the press for anyone but themselves. Yet they have been demanding that they have a right under the American Constitution that they wouldn't include in an encompassing way in their own Constitution under Nazi America. Then you had other individuals who tried to make sure within five minutes of their arrival that the Nazis didn't have the ability to exercise their rights either. And some of them made it clear on Los Angeles Indy Media and other sites that their intent wasn't merely to counter demonstrate against the Nazis either in September or at protests after that date, but to shut them down and chase them out of Riverside. So they run across the street at the demonstration in Riverside after promising the coalition of organizations that they wouldn't, even when there were children at the protest (and people had been advised not to bring their children) to do just that. Then they are surprised when the police officers in riot gear form a line between them and the Nazis?
The police near the railroad tracks stood there for several hours as a group of counter demonstrators taunted them and one officer who as it turns out is actually well known for his helpful demeanor and his professionalism by many people was singled out for most of the harassing comments.
But the police were very restrained, especially compared to the actions taken by the Los Angeles Police Department at most of their demonstrations including the one that took place on May Day during 2007 and so far has caused the city $13 million in the settlement of claims. After probably about $15 million in settlements involving the lawsuits filed by injured journalists are settled, it will probably be the second most costly police action (after the beating of Rodney King) and misconduct in the last 20 years.
I had discussions a while back with personnel in the Riverside Police Department's management about the MacArthur Park incident and what strategies would be employed by the department's own crowd response detail to avoid a similar incident. They outlined actions that they would take that were different and some of those actions were on display during the three hour rally in some pretty difficult circumstances. Even when the projectiles started flying.
What Comes Next?
When the demonstration finally ended at 1 p.m. after the Nazis left the scene under a police escort, many of the counter demonstrators went to a nearby park for a festival and the police contingent left for a post-rally debriefing. The Nazis did their little post-rally briefing where they mentioned that they would be protesting in Casa Blanca on a regular basis. The counter demonstrators' coalition wasn't sure what it wanted to do at this point.
Comments began crowding the Press Enterprise
site, about half supporting the Nazis either directly or indirectly and about half not.
In the quiet between the demonstrations, that is when most everything happens, the conditions which contribute to the Nazis' beliefs that the Inland Empire in general and Riverside in particular is the perfect spot to set up their state chapter office. And the question always is there to be asked, what are people doing when the cameras aren't there, and the Nazis aren't in plain sight in Casa Blanca or protesting at the nearby synagogue bringing their symbols with them. Are actions taken by people really the solution, are they quenching the fire or are they fueling it? If the Nazis think that Riverside is a hotbed for racism, antisemitism and hatred, what are people doing to address that situation, not just once a month facing off against the most visible manifestation of what has been festering in Riverside for a while now, but on a daily basis? Are the Nazis and their supporters at the NSM in Detroit right about Riverside being the place for them? Are they wrong? And who and what will ultimately answer that question?
I guess we'll all find out in the weeks and months ahead.
Labels: Nazi Watch, public forums in all places